The Faculty is glad to announce that Dr Darren Sarisky, Departmental Lecturer in Modern Theology, has received a Teaching Excellence Award from the Humanities Division of the University of Oxford. The Faculty is especially pleased that Dr Sarisky’s work merited this award, as there are usually only three to six such awards per academic year within a division made up of nine faculties and the Ruskin School of Art.
Dr Sarisky was awarded this honour for his work, during the 2017-2018 academic year, on a paper called Key Themes in Systematic Theology. This module had never run before and is part of the Faculty’s new and updated undergraduate curriculum in Theology and Religion. Key Themes in Systematic Theology is a paper for second-year BA students that aims to provide them with an introduction to major elements of Christian belief. It deals with understandings of God, the world and human beings, Jesus Christ and salvation, and the Holy Spirit and the church. In covering those themes, the module seeks to help students develop several abilities: to be able to identify interconnections between these topics, to understand how they receive different articulations in the various Christian sub-traditions, and to critically assess doctrinal claims about these subjects. Dr Sarisky gave leadership to the entire module, delivering sixteen lectures, convening eight text-based seminars, coordinating the work of other tutors, and managing the postgraduate teaching assistants who assisted with the seminars.
Dr Sarisky’s work on this module was seen to deserve this award because he taught this new paper so successfully. A number of features of his teaching stood out particularly. For instance, he integrated time for questions into his lectures, thus making the lecture experience interactive. He also taught on a wide variety of Christian theologies and managed to engage students from many different points of view, including those training for ordination in the Church of England, those of other faiths, and those with a secular mindset. And finally, he frequently solicited student feedback and adjusted aspects of his teaching in order to address concerns students had voiced. The Faculty offers its congratulations to Dr Sarisky for his good work on this paper.